Fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that the body is not able to break down for energy. Instead, it passes through the body, intact, through your stomach, intestine, colon and then comes out of your body in your stool. Fiber also has many health benefits that could help you reach your health goals. Keep reading to find out about the many benefits of fiber.
There are two kinds of fiber, known as soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oatmeal, nuts, beans, peas, lentils, apples and berries. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat, whole grains, brown rice, legumes, carrots and cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Do you have high cholesterol?
Soluble fiber helps to lower your “bad” cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein.
Try this: Eat oatmeal for breakfast, eat carrots with hummus as a snack, add beans to a salad or soup, eat an apple for a snack, or add berries to your yogurt.
Do you have high blood sugar?
Soluble fiber helps to slow the amount of time it takes for glucose to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, soluble fiber can help lower blood glucose levels.
Try this: Eat carrots with light ranch dressing as a snack, add chia seeds to a smoothie, add black beans to your soup or quesadilla or eat a half a cup of berries with a handful almonds as a snack!
Are you constipated?
Both types of fiber will help you become more regular, as fiber absorbs water and can loosen your stool. It also adds bulk to your stool, which helps your intestinal muscles contact, moving the stool along.
Try this: Eat a pear for a snack, choose whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta, incorporate green beans into your lunch or dinner, or eat whole wheat toast for breakfast.
Do you want to lose weight?
Eating more foods with fiber, whether soluble or insoluble, will help you to stay fuller for longer. Insoluble and soluble fiber foods take longer to digest, so they stay in your stomach for longer, preventing hunger.
Try this: Eat a handful of almonds and a handful of berries as a snack, eat whole wheat bread on your sandwich, whole wheat crackers dipped in hummus, or a sweet potato as part of your dinner.
A few more tips:
- Women should consume at least 21-25 grams of fiber each day, whereas men should consume at least 30-38 grams of fiber each day. To give you a reference, an apple has about 4.5 grams of fiber and one slice of whole wheat bread has about 3 grams of fiber.
- Drink lots of water when eating fiber-rich foods! Fiber loves to absorb water and will help keep your bowel movements regular.
- Slowly add fiber into your diet, as adding too much fiber too quickly can create abdominal discomfort and gas.